Rammed earth and bamboo cultural center keeps naturally cool in Senegal

January 30, 2017 by  
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In the remote Senegalese village of Sinthian rises a culture center that twists and turns like a sinuous sculpture. New York-based Toshiko Mori Architect designed this eye-catching building, called Thread, as an artists’ residency and cultural center commissioned by the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation . Constructed from local materials, the building’s rammed earth and large thatched openings help promote natural cooling. Winner of a 2017 AIA Honor Award , the Thread Artist Residency & Cultural Center comprises two artists’ dwellings and studio spaces for local and visiting international artists, but also serves as a greater community hub for Sinthian and the surrounding villages. Shared between twelve local tribes, the socio-cultural center provides agricultural training as well as an exhibition space, kindergarten , children’s play area, library, performance space, and a center for charging mobile homes. “It is a hub for Sinthian and surrounding villages, providing agricultural training on the area’s fertile land and a meeting place for social organisation which is, in rural Senegal, the crucial mechanism for sustainable development,” says a statement from the Aga Khan Award for Architecture about the project. “The success of its atypical plurality proves why art and architecture should be the right of all people.” Related: Off-grid earthen abode in Senegal gets all its energy from wind and solar Constructed with a team of 35 local workers over the course of a year, Thread is topped by an undulating thatched roof designed to facilitate rainwater collection, provide shade, and promote natural ventilation. The building structure was built from a bamboo framework fitted with rammed earth bricks that help absorb heat during the day and dissipates warmth at night. Site-specific solar conditions were taken into consideration when orienting the building spaces to minimize glare and unwanted solar heat gain. + Toshiko Mori Architect Via Dezeen Photographs © Iwan Baan

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Rammed earth and bamboo cultural center keeps naturally cool in Senegal

Cramped historic palace in Spain renovated as a light-filled community center

January 19, 2017 by  
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The new Cultural Center Casal Balaguer in Spain’s Palma de Mallorca is a wonderful example of how historic buildings can be adapted into today’s society. Barcelona-based Flores & Prats Architects and local Palma firm Duch-Pizá teamed up to convert the privately-owned 14th century palace into a thriving, light-filled community center. Using the sprawling layout to guide the design, the team created a building plan that would focus on maintaining some of the structure’s original character while injecting some modern-day features. Although the building had undergone various renovations over the years, the architects were determined to maintain as much of its “accumulated” character as possible. Related: Plush green-roofed cultural center replaces 2004 Olympic Games facilities in Athens Due to the cramped location of the palace, the architects had to get creative when it came to renovating the space for public use. Specifically, the rooftop had an especially significant role in the design because the structure is surrounded by narrow alleyways, reducing the possibilities of using large exterior windows to let in natural light. This limitation led the architects to use the roof as a principal design feature , interspersing sloping zinc panels into the typical Spanish ceramic tiles. The asymmetrical style of the roof outline comprised a strategic decision to filter in as much daylight as possible. Keeping in mind the building’s new use as a public space, opening up the interior space and creating clear circulation routes though the building was a priority. Once the rooms were open and spaces defined, various skylights were installed to bring in even more natural light , helping to reduce the building’s energy usage. Unfortunately, the original ceilings were in very bad shape and had to be replaced with exposed wooden beams . The large inverted wooden ceilings enhance the original arched doorways found throughout the gallery spaces and in the library. Inside, a monolithic concrete staircase leads up to the building’s rooftop terrace, letting visitors experience the building in its entirety. + Flores & Prats Architects + Duch-Pizá Via Archdaily Photography by Adrià Goula

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Cramped historic palace in Spain renovated as a light-filled community center

A giant zeppelin-shaped gathering space lands on the roof of the Dox Center for Contemporary Art in Prague

November 24, 2016 by  
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The design team found inspiration for the project in early twentieth-century airships and their symbolic qualities as structures that represent unprecedented technological advancements. It complements the existing complex that transformed an old factory into an important cultural hub in Prague. The airship will be christened after one of the most famous characters in utopian literature, Gulliver. Related: Gigantic Airship Hangar Transformed Into Tropical Island Resort “The idea to invade the DOX Centre’s starkly modern austere concrete -and-glass architecture with a “parasitic“ structure has been on my mind for several years”, said Leoš Válka. ” I first dreamed of an absurdly fascinating organic shape that would contrast with the DOX Centre’s existing architecture,” he added. + Hu? architektury Martin Rajniš + DOX Photos by Jan Slavík

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A giant zeppelin-shaped gathering space lands on the roof of the Dox Center for Contemporary Art in Prague

Homey village in France provides healing space for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia

September 23, 2016 by  
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Recent studies have shown that the quality and atmosphere of buildings can slow the progression of  Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and promote good health. The therapeutic features and overall design of the innovative new Alzheimer Village in France was created with this idea in mind. The design was created conceived by NORD Architects  in order to make a place where patients can find peace and comfort. The project recently won an international competition for a new building for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Located in the town of Dax, France , it deploys a new approach to designing healthcare facilities and draws from the architects’ extensive experience with designing buildings for the healthcare sector. The building respects the patients’ personal needs and privacy, and provides a homely atmosphere that has been proven to help Alzheimer and dementia patients. Related: Solar-powered hospital heals patients with sustainable design in New Zealand In addition to its therapeutic potentials, the new development will lower treatment and medication costs. It facilitates a gradual inclusion of patients and their relatives, and features a local shop, hairdresser, restaurants and cultural center in order to maintain an optimal level of normalcy. The intimate quality will allow users to feel at home. + NORD Architects Via World Architecture News

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Homey village in France provides healing space for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia

Egypt’s new Science City International – an oasis of knowledge in the desert

September 1, 2016 by  
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The complex will be located on the western edge of Cairo called “6th of October City”. Nestled underneath a series of white dishes is a variety of interactive exhibitions , a museum, a planetarium , and observation tower , research and development facilities, workshops and a conference center . Related: eL Seed’s latest calligraffiti covers 50 buildings in Cairo’s “Garbage City” The competition brief called for “a set of buildings and spaces that must be inspiring on the outside and motivating and exciting on the inside to visitors and employees alike.” Out of 446 contestants, including Zaha Hadid Architects who took third place, the panel of leading academics and science entrepreneurs has chosen the entry designed by Weston Williamson+Partners as the winner. Chris Williamson, co-founder of WW+P said, “We are proud to have won. Needless to say that Egypt has a unique cultural heritage, but we were also attracted by the ambition of the project, clearly expressed through the brief. We look forward to developing the design and creating something worthy for Egypt’s future generations.” + Weston Williamson+Partners Via World Architecture News

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Egypt’s new Science City International – an oasis of knowledge in the desert

Keynsham Civic Center and One Stop Shop brings public space back to Bristolians

July 22, 2016 by  
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The complex occupies a large sloping site located within the town center, and makes it accessible to pedestrians . In addition to office spaces and civic facilities, the complex includes 20,000 square feet of retail spaces on the ground floor. Related: Prefabricated Southend Pier Cultural Centre Sits At the End of the World’s Longest Pleasure Pier “We responded to the challenge of the constrained and sloping town centre site by slicing through it to create two new pedestrian retail streets and a cluster of inter-locking buildings,” said the architects. “This allowed over 50% of the site to be given over to new retail focused public realm and better integrated the development into the existing urban grain.” Related: Atelier CMJN Unveils Plans for Sustainable Great Fen Visiting Center in the UK In addition to its communal and civic values, the project is marked by several sustainable features such as power-saving mechanisms, efficient lighting systems, high thermal mass, and excellent acoustic performance . The project, which won the 2015 RIBA South West Sustainability Award, is the first in the country to target a Display Energy Certificate (DEC). + AHR Architects Via Architecture Photos by Daniel Hopkinson

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Keynsham Civic Center and One Stop Shop brings public space back to Bristolians

Plush green-roofed cultural center replaces 2004 Olympic Games facilities in Athens

July 1, 2016 by  
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The Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center looks like an artificial hill that rises towards the south part of the site to a maximum height of 32 meters (104 feet), offering great views of the sea and the bay of Kallithea. A sloping park, planted with indigenous species and conceived by New York landscape designer Deborah Nevins , tops the opera house and the library. Related: London to get another Renzo Piano-designed tower at Paddington Station A large solar array was installed on the roof of the complex, which Piano calls the “flying carpet.” Inside, various functions and programs are organized around a central gathering space inspired by the agora, a typology dating back to ancient times. Over 5,000 manuscripts and documents are housed inside a large library. Various other spaces like a business incubator for entrepreneurs, a music recording studio and play areas for kids and teenagers are distributed across the first two floors, while the adjacent opera house features two auditoriums for traditional and experimental performances. + Renzo Piano Building Workshop Via Dezeen

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Plush green-roofed cultural center replaces 2004 Olympic Games facilities in Athens

Mountain-shaped Ama’r Children’s Culture House in Copenhagen has no beginning or end

April 11, 2016 by  
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Mountain-shaped Ama’r Children’s Culture House in Copenhagen has no beginning or end

Is this protein the key to an anti-aging pill?

April 11, 2016 by  
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From serums to plastic surgery to antioxidants, humans are continually trying to delay the inevitable aging process. Now researchers claim they may be one step closer to an anti-aging pill – and it all comes down to one little protein molecule. According to the team, a pill that limits the protein GSK-3 could increase the human lifespan by seven to ten years . Read the rest of Is this protein the key to an anti-aging pill?

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2,500 orbiting solar “flying carpets” could power the planet

April 11, 2016 by  
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One need not venture to the Cave of Wonders to discover the magic of flying carpets. The  Space Solar Power Initiative (SSPI), a collaboration between Caltech and global security company Northrup Grumman, has proposed the development of solar paneled “flying carpets,” each nearly the size of a football field, that would orbit in sync while gathering energy. This interstellar solar energy would then be beamed down to the planet to provide clean power across the globe. Read the rest of 2,500 orbiting solar “flying carpets” could power the planet

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